Defending against school threats

Defending against school threats

TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) - A scary day at school for two local high schools.

Woodward High School evacuated Friday due to a bomb threat while St. Francis de Sales went into lockdown after a student found a written threat in the bathroom.  While both schools acted fast to ensure student safety, research shows threats like these are becoming more common.

"It's very shocking because out of, out of all schools I never knew it would be happening to our school," said Woodward senior Sidnie Coleman.

Woodward students were in shock after being evacuated Friday because of a bomb threat called into the school.

"It is very scary cause we don't have that type of stuff in Toledo," said Yolanda Butler, a TPS mother.

Toledo Public School leaders said bomb threats are rare in the district, but experts said it's becoming more common. Last year the Educator's School Safety Network saw 10 to 12 school threats a day.

St. Francis was Toledo's second threat on Friday. The threat was generic in nature, but they put their safety action plan into effect immediately.

"It was an appropriate and measured response right with a vague threat," said Father Geoff Rose, president of St. Francis de Sales. "You don't want to overreact or underreact and so as we went through our policies and procedures from a student reporting, to staff response, a timely response to parents and then collaboration with local law enforcement."

Dr. Amy Klinger spent 25 years working in the education field and now travels the country teaching school safety. Her non-profit's research shows generic threats like that at St. Francis are the most common accounting for a third of threats made.

She said one of the most alarming to her are bomb threats, like that reported at Woodward Friday. Already in the first month of school Klinger said there have been four suspicious packages found at schools.

"I think that it's something that we're under prepared for," said Klinger, director of programs for Educator's School Safety Network. "A lot of schools don't have anything in their crisis plan or in their training that speaks to bomb threats, that speaks to detonation, that speaks to suspicious packages all sorts of things."

Luckily no one was injured and nothing was found at either school, but these false threats are serious and carry criminal implications. Dr. Klinger says parents need to talk with their students, and schools must get serious about training.

"You have to invest in your people so that they know how to respond appropriately," said Dr. Amy Klinger. "That helps to stop threats, it helps to prevent violence and it helps to minimize the problem when you do have a crisis."

Dr. Klinger said this training is not just one big fix, but rather multiple things. It's emotional, mental and physical support. She believes schools need an all hazards approach to violence of any kind.

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